DOH denies reports of kids dying after deworming in Zamboanga Sur
ZAMBOANGA CITY – Hundreds of children in at least nine towns and three cities in Western Mindanao were brought to the hospital after takin deworming medicines.
Dr. Joshua Brillantes, chief of the Local Health Support Division of the Department of Health Western Mindanao (DOH9), told the Inquirer they were overwhelmed by the reports that children were being rushed to hospitals due to nausea, vomiting and abdominal pains.
He identified the cities of Pagadian, Dipolog and Dapitan, and the towns of Kabasalan, Buug, Alicia and Margosatubig in Zamboanga Sibugay; Diplahan, Dumingag and Dimataling in Zamboanga del Sur, Polanco and Pinas in Zamboanga del Norte, as the areas where there were children who experienced nausea, vomiting and abdominal pains after chewing or ingesting the deworming pill Albendazole.
“We are also wondering why there are many cases of side effects here in Western Mindanao,” he said.
Brillantes cited two possible reasons for this: “The kids who took the pill, took it without taking breakfast, as the instruction was that they should take the med with full stomach. Or, may maraming bulati ang tiyan.”
He said “children with worms” usually feel the side effects– nausea, vomiting and abdominal pains –two hours after taking the pill.
The DOH, Brillantes said, did not issue a suspension order on the deworming campaign, “but many towns decided to stop it.”
Brillantes also said they were checking on reports that the medicines given to children in Dipolog City were already past its expiry date.
In Dapitan City, dozens of children were also brought to the Dr. Jose Rizal Memorial Hospital after suffering the same symptoms. But a nurse at the hospital said most of those brought in “false alarm.”
“Some parents brought their children just to be sure,” the nurse, who asked not to be named as she did not have authority to speak on the matter, said.
Earlier, Brillantes denied reports that 10 children in Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur have died after being dewormed.
“When we have it checked with our personnel there, it turn out to be a false information,” he said.
Brillantes said the “rumors” were reported by a radio station in Pagadian City.
Dumingag Mayor Nacianceno Pacalioga said as soon as he heard about news report, he sent his staff to check “and we found out it’s not true.”
Brillantes said the department is implementing a deworming campaign with school-age children taking chewable pill Albendazole.
“This is a safe medicine, approved by BFAD. Kids are required to take breakfast before taking the medicine. No worries for parents because, as I have said, it is safe,” he said.
Brillantes said it was “expected that some, especially those who are not used to taking medicines, will have stomach reactions.”
But in Kidapawan City where close to 10,000 school children from various public elementary schools received free deworming medicines on Wednesday, not one was brought to the hospital.
Vivien Calica, the school nurse in Kidapawan City Pilot Elementary School (KCPES), said before giving the children the deworming tablets, they were told to avoid being hyper as it will have adverse effect to the parasites inside the human body.
Calica said there are tendencies that the parasites might be dazed and will look for an outlet to get out from its hosts.
“They might come out through mouth of the children. But nothing to worry since this is just one among the adverse effects of the medicine,” Calica added.
Those who have taken the deworming medicines could also suffer stomach ache, headache and vomiting, Calica said.
The school nurse, however, advised the parents not to panic.
Calica also said that unlike the incident in Zamboanga del Sur where students were rushed to the hospitals due to stomach aches, there were no similar incidents reported in Kidapawan City. Julie S. Alipala with a report from Williamor Magbanua, Inquirer Mindanao
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